As much as he celebrated Hibs’ stunning League Cup win over Premiership leaders Aberdeen, Dylan McGeouch has insisted if he and his team-mates want to enjoy such moments on a regular basis then nothing less than victory over St Mirren tomorrow will do.
Promotion remains the sole objective for the Easter Road club regardless of their cup exploits and with a nine-point gap between them and Rangers at the top of the Championship table – albeit they have a game in hand – McGeouch knows they have to be relentless in their pursuit.
So far at Easter Road Alan Stubbs’ side have been exactly that, three league games played, nine points and not one goal conceded and, if you take their League Cup campaign thus far into account those statistics are even more impressive, six straight wins with goalkeeper Mark Oxley yet to pick the ball out of his net.
McGeouch said: “It’s all about making Easter Road a fortress, letting teams know that they are not going to leave here with much – if anything. If they are to do so then it’s going to be a big ask.”
To that end, while strikers Jason Cummings and Dominique Malonga earned the plaudits for the late goals which sank Aberdeen, McGeouch was adamant the success was earned from an outstanding team performance, saying: “We worked hard for each other all over the pitch. I thought the defence was magnificent and gave us the platform to go on and win the game.
“The manager came up with a different formation and credit to the boys we just slotted into space. We usually go with a diamond in the middle of the park but played with two instead while it was three at the back and it worked superbly. It shows the flexibility we have in the squad that we can change to all sorts of formations, that we are not one dimensional.
“To be honest, I thought the game was 50/50 up until the first goal but we knew before the game, during it and at half-time that if we played to our full abilities then we had a real chance. At 1-0 up we knew they were going to come at us so to see Dom run half the length of the pitch and add a second was a great relief, it took any pressure off our shoulders.
“I think it was a compliment to us that Aberdeen came with a full-strength side. There can be the temptation in such games to make changes but Aberdeen had enjoyed a great run of results and we knew it was going to be tough as it proved to be. But we also knew that with hard work and with our fans behind us it would take a lot to beat us.”
It was also a different scenario for Stubbs’ players, used to most visiting sides attempting to shut up shop and hit on the break, forcing Hibs to be patient in the search for an opening goal. McGeouch said: “We knew Aberdeen would come and try to play, they’d been going so well in the Premiership and hadn’t lost a game. The majority of teams coming to Easter Road have a more defensive mindset so it’s up to us to break them down. It was a great win for us, a terrific atmosphere and everyone was delighted not just with the result but the way we played.”
The 22-year-old conceded, however, that the obvious danger for the Capital side was letting themselves down after the high of Wednesday night, a pitfall he insisted they are obviously keen to avoid saying: “There’s always that worry, that the performance might dip after such a result.
“We need to be focused, determined that all the hard work we’ve put in ensures we don’t finish what’s been a good week with a poor result.”
McGeouch didn’t care to speculate on just what tactics Saints boss Ian Murray – who was in attendance to see his old club’s triumph over the Dons – might adopt tomorrow with the Buddies struggling to adopt to life in the second tier. He said: “I really don’t know what we are going to get.
“Although I wasn’t here for the first six games of last season, we lost four of them. It can be bit of a shock to the system being used to paying at a higher level where games are pretty much 50/50, teams trying to attack then you come down and find it’s up to you usually to break the opposition down.
“Saints are a good team, they’ve got good players, a good squad and they’ll be looking to pick themselves up. We just have to make sure they don’t start doing that against us.”